Danilo Petrucci is just one day away from his goal of completing the 2022 Dakar Rally, after overcoming 'one of the toughest days of my life' on the penultimate stage.

The 346 km special contained demanding navigation, made worse by a sandstorm, while riding through physically exhausting soft sand dunes.

Petrucci suffered a 'big crash' when he hit a hidden piece of wood but braved the pain to emerge with the 17th fastest time, just over 23 minutes from eventual stage winner and fellow KTM rider Kevin Benavides.

“It was one of the toughest days of my life today. I got a little lost early on with some other riders and then after that there were some really soft dunes," said the former MotoGP rider.

"I have never seen anything like that before, it was really tiring to ride through.

"Then we raced through a huge sandstorm where it was really difficult to find your way and stay focused on your navigation. Luckily, after the refueling it was ok - the sand was still really soft, but it wasn’t so tricky.

"Unfortunately, at one point I hit a piece of wood that was hidden underneath the sand and I had a big crash and hurt my shoulder. I was able to make it to the finish, but it did give me a lot of pain.

"We have one more day to go, so I’m looking forward to reaching the finish.”

The Italian, who made history by winning Stage 5 but is out of overall contention due to an early electronical problem forcing his bike to be recovered, is now just 680 kilometres away from completing his first Dakar Rally.

At the head of the field, yet another lead change means GASGAS rider Sam Sunderland takes a 6m 52s lead over Honda's Pablo Quintanilla into the final day with KTM's Matthias Walkner 7m 15s from the top in third.